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Tu Chhe Lajawab: Sarita Joshi Excels In Hit Gujarati Play; Honored With Gujarat Gaurav Award

Photos by Darshan Shah

She is the doyen of Indian theatre and cinema who has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world on account of her acting prowess since the last 57 years and her popularity seems to be on the rise with each passing day. Yes, she is none other than the 71 year old youthful actress, Saritaben Joshi who was recently in Atlanta to enact lead character in the Gujrati comedy, “Tu Chhe Lajawaab” at the Sardar Patel Bhawan at the Gujarati Samaj Hall in Tucker, Georgia on April 27, 2012. She made the audience burst into peals of laughter at the three hour play and it was indeed a memorable experience for Atlantans to witness the exquisite performance of the talented Sarita along with a host of other actors of the Indian (Gujarati) theatre.

A historic moment was witnessed immediately before the start of the play when the organizer of the show, Mr Mustafa Ajmeri surprised everybody by inviting the Chief Guest of the day, renowned Gujrati poet and writer Madhu Rye to the stage and requested him to felicitate the veteran actress with the Award of “Gujarat Gaurav” (Pride of Gujarat) for her contribution in the field of theatre and television. It was a great watching the two stalwarts share the stage with Mustafa Ajmeri. Madhu Rye got a huge round of applause as he went up the stage to present the trophy to Sarita Joshi. Madhu Rye is the author of numerous Gujarati plays and Priyanka Chopra starrer Hindi movie, “Whats your Rashee” which is based on his novel “Kimble Ravenswood”. Madhy Rye had specially been invited by Mustafa Ajmeri from New York to honor Sarita Joshi. Madhu Rye was all praise for the veteran Sarita and stated that there were two women in his life, first was his wife and the second was Sarita Joshi who had commenced her Gujrati theatrical career by enacting the lead role in the play “Santoo Rangili” (which ran for nine years) written by Madhu Rye himself and had made her a star overnight. The play was an adaptation of the famous musical film “Sound of Music”. Madhu Ray is also the Editor of the magazine “Mamta”and is known for encouraging new talented writers by printing their stories in his magazine. The other plays written by Madhu Ray are “Kumar –Ni- Agashi” and “Sharat”, ”Khelando” and many more.

“Tu Chhe Lajawaab” is a satirical play which has Sarita Joshi playing the lead role of a middle-aged housewife, Kamudi Mehta, called “Moti” by her husband Bijen Prasad (Bakul Thakkar) and brother-in-law, Prashant (Mehta). Sarita impressed the audience by displaying a diverse range of emotions ranging from happiness to sadness to hatred with immense ease. She even sang and danced on the song “Ding chika ding chika” from the Salman Khan starrer Hindi film, “Ready” and sang a few lines from A.R Rehman’s song “Mustafa Mustafa, don’t worry Mustafa” in praise of Mustafa Ajmeri. She changed costumes umpteen times from colorful “sarees”, to “kameez churidars” to pants and even kids school uniform.

Sarita Joshi received international fame for her role in Abhishek Bachhan starrer ‘Guru’ directed by the renowned filmmaker Mani Ratnam. She was also the lead role in the film ‘Dasvidaniya’. Sarita began her TV career with the Hindi serial “Titaliyan” telecast in Doordarshan in the 80s where she beautifully displayed her acting skills and the memories of that serial too are embedded deep down in my heart since I am a great fan of hers. She is the receipient of numerous awards like the “Sangeet Natak President’s Award”, Gaurav Award, and Mahanagar Palika Gold Medal which she received by the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi himself. Her talented daughters Ketki Dave and Purbi Joshi too are renowned actresses of the Indian theater, films and television. Her younger daughter Purabi Joshi, too is making the audiences laugh by depicting her acting skils in the serial “Comedy Circus”, currently being telecast during the weekends on Sony TV.

Earlier, while talking to this writer at an exclusive interview before the play at the Gujarati Samaj Hall green room, Sarita Joshi said that she was very excited at performing in Atlanta and she was coming here after ten years when she had performed the play “Aik Bhi Jaane Gam Thare” with Deven Bhojani and Aatish Kapadia, the writer and director of the play. In chaste Hindi the multifaceted actress revealed that she had her own production company with her late husband Pravin Joshi associated with the Indian National Theater (INT). She later stopped the production company and concentrated on acting only. She was all praise for the Gujrati Theater which gave her name, fame wealth and respect adding that it was the Gujrati Theater which came to her rescue during her hard times after the untimely death of her husband, Pravin Joshi. Acting in theatre which enabled her to impart good education to her three children and got her numerous accolades, she said.

Recalling her experience of working with Aishwarya Rai and Abhisheikh Bachchan in Mani Ratnam’s film “Guru” Sarita said that both of them were very nice with her on the sets of the film and took good care of her in case she was unwell. “I had really prayed to God that they be united in the bond of matrimony which indeed happened thereafter”. 

When asked how she looked so young and energetic at this age pat replied the actress, “I have a positive thinking and that keeps me going. I am satisfied with what God has given me as now I have got a feeling that God has given me a lot. I also do “Yoga”. Surely I attribute my success to the blessings of the Almighty”. The actress of the Hindi serial “Ba Bahu Aur Baby” stated that she is enacting the title role in her impending film “Gangubai”. She said that her earlier popular plays “Sakku Bai” (Hindi) and “Santoo Rangili” (Gujrati) had run for eleven years and nine years, respectively. 

Another great actor who impressed audiences with his acting in “Tu Chhe Lajawab” is the young actor, Bakul Thakkar, who too has been working in Gujrati plays since his college days when he enacted the role of Sarita’s ‘devar’ in the Hindi play, “Neela Kamra”. Attired in green and white tee shirt and jeans during a chit chat with this writer at the Gujrati Smaj Hall, the soft-spoken Bakul Thakkar stated that he began his career with amateur theater and was now performing in US after a gap of two years when he had enacted in the musical “Sathvara Shri Radheshyam” in an “Exchange Program of World Folk Festival” in Utah. He has acted in numerous Hindi TV serials like “Kusum’, “Aik Ladki Anjaani Si” and Priyadarshan starrer Hindi Film, “Shortkut”. He also enacted the role of a sports teacher again in Priyadarshan’s Hindi film, “Bam Bam Bole”, released last year.

The play was organized by Mustafa Ajmeri of “Global Entertainment Source” and Bhavna Modi of “Manpasand US” in cooperation with the Gujarati Samaj of Atlanta who zealously worked to make this play a grand success. The other actors who enacted in the play were renowned actors Bakul Thakkar, Shruti Gholap, Hemant Bhatt, Vikram Mehta, Jai Pandya, Ashwini and Mehul Joshi. The play was produced by Show People and Kausrubh Trivedi and directed by Vipul Mehta and written by Aslam Parvez. Mustafa Ajmeri thanked Madhu Rye, Sarita Joshi and all mediapersons, representatives, friends and the sponsors who supported this play. The audience too enjoyed watching this play. According to Mukund rai, a doctor form Atlanta, “I had a great time watching Saritaji’s play. I had watched her play “Santoo Rangilli” thirty years ago. Even now she exhibits the same energy and vibrance which she had three decades ago”. 

Earlier, during the interval Mustafa Ajmeri alongwith Ramesh Pandya conducted a raffle draw. The free cruise trip for the winners was sponsored by Axar Travel and Tours and the gift certificates were sponsored by New Delhi Imports, Apana Bazar, Fun Unlimited (Indoor Cricket Zone, Global Mall).

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